School receives totem pole

When Vicky Addison listened to a phone message offering to give her school a piece of artwork, she was expecting a painting.

Little did she know that more than four months later she would be accepting a 10-foot totem pole from an internationally-known Alaskan wood carver.

On Thursday, Nathan Jackson helped unveil his Called by the Raven , a totem pole featuring a whale, frog and raven that took him three months to carve. The artwork, valued at $50,000, is a gift from Helen Mulholland, a former Richmond County teacher now living in Anderson, S.C., to John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School.

Mrs. Mulholland told Davidson students that her interest in totem poles grew out of an assignment during an anthropology class at Augusta State University.

"They grabbed me and caught my interest all because of a class I was required to take," she said at Thursday's assembly.

Mr. Jackson attended the assembly, giving a glimpse into Alaskan culture and explaining the significance of the totem pole and the raven, his family crest.

He also performed a native Alaskan raven song.

"It develops a kind of community. It means we can develop friends," he said of the gift afterward. "A lot of this becomes an educational part of what we're actually doing in Alaska with our culture."

Mr. Jackson has totem poles displayed in all of Alaska's major museums and museums throughout the world, and he has made presentations in places such as Australia, England and Switzerland.

Mr. Jackson will return to Davidson today to serve as an artist in residence. The master carver will visit classrooms and demonstrate his artistic techniques.

"We here at Davidson are soaring like the raven," Mrs. Addison, Davidson's principal, said. "It is a great honor bestowed upon this school."

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.